By Chuck Alley
Reading from the Gospel of Luke, 10:17-24
17 The seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!” 18He said to them, “I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning. 19See, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing will hurt you. 20Nevertheless, do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
21 At that same hour Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. 22All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”
23 Then turning to the disciples, Jesus said to them privately, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see! 24For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.”
The relationship of the righteous kings and prophets who existed before the Incarnation to the disciples and believers living after Pentecost is like that between journalists who report on the news and those who interview the news-makers. By God’s grace we have been granted access to God and given the privilege of sharing with the world the message we have received directly from his mouth. Middle men and interpreters need not corrupt what we have been given. We can put the message in quote marks and not have to qualify all we say with statements like “according to a reliable source,” because we are there ourselves. By being in his presence, we become eye-witnesses to the working out of God’s will. While the prophets could only proclaim what God had promised and, therefore, report in the future tense, we can use the past and present tenses to tell the world what God is doing.
It is true that we are links further down the chain chronologically. Yet as such, we have even more evidence of the transforming effect that the message of salvation through the cross of Christ has made on the world. One man—
- in three years of public ministry,
- with twelve commoners as his chosen leaders,
- without any military action,
- without ascension to political or religious institutional power,
caused the mightiest human empire to become Christian within three hundred years, and is still changing lives twenty-one hundred years later.
When we raise our heads above the surface of the pool of our own concerns, how can we not feel incredibly blessed? How can we not be encouraged, even as individuals, to go out and share the good news with all our neighbors?
Chuck Alley is a retired Episcopal priest and an adjunct associate professor of anatomy on the medical faculty of Virginia Commonwealth University. He and his wife, Scottie, have three children and nine grandchildren.
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